Personal data stores are the new grey?

farm fresh eggs

If I had some money from all the people who sent me details of Tim Burners-Lee’s Solid I would have enough to buy a cheap flight to somewhere in Europe with a cheap airline.

Solid is meant to change “the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value. As we’ve all discovered, this hasn’t been in our best interests. Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance – by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way.”

Solid isn’t a radical new program. Instead, “Solid is a set of modular specifications, which build on, and extend the founding technology of the world wide web (HTTP, REST, HTML). They are 100% backwards compatible with the existing web.

Main reason why people seem to be sending it my way is because of another open source project I’m involved in called Databox.

For me the Solid is a personal data store, its like a secure vault for your data. This is good but like 2 factor authentication over SMS, not as secure as other ways. Put all your personal data in one place and its a central point for those who want everything at once. Think about how many times you have seen leaks of databases which contain credit cards, numbers, emails, names, etc… Its the eggs/data in one basket problem…

This came up at Mydata 2018, there was quite a lot of discussion about this through out the conference and touched on in Mikko Hypponen’s talk.

The data in one place is just aspect, others are more about the value proposal to people and technically how verified claims work; as expressed in how solid is tim’s plan to redecentralize the web.

The comparisons between Solid and Databox have been asked by many and I would certainly say Databox (regardless of its name) isn’t a place to hold all your personal data. You could use it like that but its more of a privacy aware data processing platform/unit. I remember the first time I heard about Vendor relationship management (VRM), it was clear to me how powerful this could be for many things. But then again I also identified Data portability as something essential while most people just didn’t see the point.

Everything will live or die by not just developer support, privacy controls, security, cleverness, but by user demand… and it feels like personal data stores still a while off in most peoples imagination.

Maybe once enough people personally experience the rough side of personal data breaches it may change?

For example today I received a email from have you been pwned saying…

You’re one of 125,929,660 people pwned in the Apollo data breach.

In July 2018, the sales engagement startup Apollo left a database containing billions of data points publicly exposed without a password. The data was discovered by security researcher Vinny Troia who subsequently sent a subset of the data containing 126 million unique email addresses to Have I Been Pwned. The data left exposed by Apollo was used in their “revenue acceleration platform” and included personal information such as names and email addresses as well as professional information including places of employment, the roles people hold and where they’re located. Apollo stressed that the exposed data did not include sensitive information such as passwords, social security numbers or financial data.

Till this is a everyday occurrence, most people will just carry on and not care? Maybe theres even a point it should be part of the furniture of the web, like the new grey?

The Living Room of the Future at the V&A Museum – this weekend!

The weekend of the 22-23rd September 2018, the living room of the future will be at the London Design Festival’s Digital weekender at the V&A Museum.

Tickets are still available but there is a waiting list for certain times. Of course if there is space we will add you to the audience, but we do have a physical limit on each showing.

Come and visit us and give your views… See you there!

We present the Living room of the future…

living room of the future flyer

I’ve been working on the living room of the future and write about it quite a few other places including the BBC R&D blog.

Its part of the reason for the radio silence recently, but honestly the team of 3 universities and 2 arts organisations have been hard at work to create the live demonstrator of the living room of the future.

living room of the future

I won’t lie, its bloody exciting not only for the experience but what it enables and stands for. I highly recommend taking part in the research if you are able to come to Liverpool from Thursday 3rd – 8th May.

Of course I don’t want to reveal too much and although its hard to do much of a spoiler as its about a shared experience. Our twitter bot is doing a good job showing the inners of what going on if you are wondering.

There has been a question for a while which people always ask. Why the living room? To which I answer sensitive place, common private area for discussions, there are existing social hierarchies at play in the space and its place for small audiences. Its also a complex space which I’ve seen talked about a lot recently.

BD3-34 - Pilsen St bedsit with armchair

I found Millennials don’t need living rooms, piece from the Independent fascinating.

A prominent architect has argued millennials do not need living rooms and their housing prospects would be greatly improved if size regulations were overhauled.

Patrik Schumacher, who took over as head of Zaha Hadid Architects after the legendary founder died in early 2016, said “hotel room-sized” studio flats were ideal for young people who led busy lives.

In a paper published by the Adam Smith Institute, he suggested size rules should be reviewed to increase the number of studio flats available to those on lower incomes.

While a 25-square-metre flat is the minimum in Japan, in the UK the minimum is 37 square metres for a one-bed.

Although reading through the piece, it sounds like a land grab to change the regulation and fit even more property in smaller spaces. There is a slight point that the price of property is super high and this could help (IF) prices don’t increase they are currently.

Polly Neate, CEO of housing charity Shelter, hit back at the architect’s remarks. “Tiny homes don’t necessarily mean cheaper homes, and at Shelter we know that having a decent place to live is vital for people’s well-being. So compromising on space and quality isn’t going to do anyone any favours,” she told The Independent.

“Homes in the UK are not expensive because they are too large, they are too expensive because our housing market is broken. When big developers realise they can squeeze, for example, 20 tiny homes on the same patch of land that once fit just ten then the price of land will rise to reflect this.

“The solution to the housing crisis is not to build ever smaller homes but to bring down the price of land and build the type of genuinely affordable homes that people actually want to live in.”

My thoughts went back and forth while reading but I wondered if the living space is squeezed what will disappear? Maybe the living room or kitchen will be first to go, looking at Japanese flats for example.

There was a choice in building the living room of the future, that it should be big or small? What was it it and what wasn’t. We decided on small to reflect the trend on smaller shared spaces and the need for the 3rd space.

Looking at the other side of the living room project, it was also fascinating to read about the UK’s first smarthome with Apple home kit baked in. The obviously scares the life out of me but every buyer of smart homes should read the house which spied on me and also the follow up which explains how it worked.

The house which spied on me

In December, I converted my one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco into a “smart home.” I connected as many of my appliances and belongings as I could to the internet: an Amazon Echo, my lights, my coffee maker, my baby monitor, my kid’s toys, my vacuum, my TV, my toothbrush, a photo frame, a sex toy, and even my bed.

Its super revealing and a very good long read. It speaks volumes about the different data which flows around our homes and spaces like the living room.

So what you waiting for, get yourself a ticket now!

Could the Mycroft 2, be the perfect replacement for a Google home

I saw the Mycroft v2 recently and had a look through the kickstarter page to learn a little more.

MyCroft v1

It looks promising but after some research and some tweets, I remembered the mycroft.ai is something I looked at previously and was interested in installing on a RaspberryPi to see if I could create what I really need. Its one of my many projects I wanted to do with my holidays sometime. Its clear voice and hue lights could be very good, especially for guests but I don’t want google and philips to be involved in that process.

I also suggested mycroft and betty to Databox team, when we talked about voice in the living room of the future. It seems like a perfect match right?

Anyway, I think I might back the second one only because I don’t really want to do the hard work making it work on a Raspberry Pi.

Exploring the living room of the future in Sarajevo?

Yesterday I posted about being very busy over the next month or so and I mentioned going to Sarajevo unlimited. Some of you might be scratching your head, thinking why?

Well it starts with a better question than simply “Sarajevo? why?

If its possible to adapt, customise or even personalised media to a person and their context (we know it is – if you not been paying attention, check out object media and some of the perceptive media work); how does this work with a few to many people experiencing at the same media?

No more shared experience?

This is a question I get a lot on the road. I clearly remember when I first presented Visual Perceptive Media at This way up (conference about the future of digital cinema) in 2015. Most felt I was breaking the shared moment and therefore breaking the very idea of cinema.

Is this the shared experience you are talking about?

I always like to joke a little and remind people the shared experience was/is broken. You only have to look at on-demand, the huge amount of channels, ways to consume content and the ever growing diversity of sources. Honest media makers know you can watch the exact same thing and take away different things, due to your experience, background, culture, etc. But the question of the share experience is a fair point, especially as we drift further into our filter bubbles?

A different shared experience

So the question is, knowing all this, is there a different shared experience which can be enabled with the technology and research we have now? Something which people will have a hard time explaining and ultimately throw up their hands saying “…you had to be there!

Internet of thing - Perceptive Radio

I obviously say yes! I point at physical connected things as a potential way to bring people together and create new types of connected/shared experiences. This is why the Perceptive Radio was a big deal and what it stood for back in 2013, a whole year to half a year before the Amazon Alexa by the way!

Even before seeing things like the Good night lamp and BBC R&D’s dalek prototype. It was clear enchanted objects have the potential to connect people with the media in a bi-directional manor (media affecting the objects and objects affecting the media). With that in mind and the concept of the tiny theatre buzzing around my head from Jasmine and Vicky; it became clear that our living rooms are so packed full of connected objects could be ground zero with its diverse groups of people and contexts.

The living room of the future?

Very cool but what has this to do with Sarajevo?

It was during my talk at Future Fest when I met Caroline from the British Council. We briefly talked about the plan which I had already had support from FACT in Liverpool and the Nottingham Databox team. Then early  in 2017, we spent much more time talking through the project and its fruitful aims for research and user experience design; especially with the synergy of Object media and Databox which was demonstrated as homelab kitchen at Mozfest 2016.

Mozfest 2016

The British Council loved it and suggested a collaboration with their Western Balkans office as they have been monitoring some great creativity in the area. What better way to inject some much needed creativity into, on the face of it quite a technical project? Its pretty easy to forget its about the experience not the technology.

From my personal point of view, its great to have a more diversity outside the usual places. From my short time spent in Romanian and Estonia with Mozilla, I’m convinced this will be a collaboration with surprises and breathtaking results. Ultimately together we will explore what the living room of the future could be, when the media and connected objects (IOT) in the room talk to each other seamlessly but in data ethical way.

There is a blog post drafted for the BBC R&D blog with more details, but as the British Council have already started the process by advertising for 20 creatives to join our special workshop at Sarajevo unlimited. I thought I’d add some background to this incredible project… I’m very much looking forward to updating everyone as the project moves forward.